Fabrication of Highly Modulable Fibrous 3D Extracellular Microenvironments

W. Xu, F. Han, A. Syed, E.M. Bukhari, B.C.J. Siang, S. Yang, B. Zhou, W-J Wen, D. Jiang, X-X Zhang
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology,
Saudi Arabia

Keywords: three-dimensional, scaffolds, self-assembled, high-aspect-ratio microfibers

Summary:

Three-dimensional (3D) in vitro scaffolds that mimic the irregular fibrous structures of in vivo extracellular matrix (ECM) are critical for many important biological applications. However, structural properties modulation of fibrous 3D scaffolds remains a challenge. Here, we report the first highly modulable 3D fibrous scaffolds self-assembled by high-aspect-ratio (HAR) microfibers. The scaffolds structural properties can be easily tailored to incorporate various physical cues, including geometry, stiffness, heterogeneity and nanotopography. Moreover, the fibrous scaffolds could be readily and accurately patterned on desired locations of the substrate. Cell culture exhibits that our scaffolds can elicit strong bidirectional cell-material interactions. Furthermore, a functional disparity between the two-dimensional substrate and our 3D scaffolds was identified by cell spreading and proliferation data. These results prove the potential of the proposed scaffold as a biomimetic extracellular microenvironment for cell study. Our work opens a new way of fabricating 3D scaffold and enhances the fibrous scaffold functionality.